Thursday, May 01, 2008

Amanda...or is it Gracie?

Doberman by Lori Levin

pencil sketch in moleskine

It has been said that often the people represented in an artist's work often resemble the artist. Is this also true for the artist's dog? I am working on a commission of a lovely Doberman named "Amanda". She passed away last year but stays in the hearts of her humans and I am attempting to honor that. It seems my mind has other plans.

Anyway, I sit down and work out my thoughts on the piece in my sketchbook. As I sit sketching happily, Miss Gracie walks into the studio to check on me. I keep telling her I'm drawing another puppy and ask her for her opinion. I pick up my book to show her and at that instant I realize I've created a very nice sketch however, it looks an awful lot like Gracie! How did that happen? Gracie seems to like it though and goes back to watching birds. So, I went back and played with it some more, of course killing the freshness of the drawing and get a closer likeness to the Dobe. Damn you Gracie.

The drawing is not spot on but it does help me figure out some issues before I go to the good paper. Mistakes in a sketch are a good thing. It alerts me to my assumptions and reconnects me to my observations. We walk around in the world labeling everything in our minds. This habit blinds us to what is really there. Artists usually don't do that as much but when errors happen it is a clear sign we are labeling and not looking. You can understand better what I mean by trying this little trick. Pull out your favorite photo of yourself or a loved one. Look at it closely, close your eyes and picture it in your mind. Now turn it upside-down. Do the same thing. Now email me and tell me the differences in your observation.

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